Conservative activist Gary Bauer on Thursday urged Newt Gingrich to get out of the contest for the Republican presidential nomination and said conservatives are ready to unite behind Rick Santorum, according to the Washington Examiner.
The newspaper reported that Bauer, head of Campaign for Working Families, said he polled 200,000 conservatives and found that 74 percent of them want to unite behind a single candidate -- and that 82 percent of that group wants the nominee to be Santorum, the former senator from Pennsylvania. Just 18 percent chose front-runner Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor; 16 percent picked Gingrich, the former House speaker; and 1 percent backed Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas.
“A strong consensus is emerging at the conservative grassroots to unite behind Senator Santorum,” Bauer, who ran for president briefly himself in 2000, told the newspaper. “There is great admiration for Newt Gingrich’s contributions to conservatism, as well as his debating abilities. But the overwhelming sentiment was that he could most help the conservative cause by standing with Santorum so that voters have a clear choice in the remaining primaries.”
In a response, Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond told National Journal/CBS News: “With all due respect to Mr. Bauer, we are going to take the support of leaders like Don Wildmon here in Mississippi and Jim Garlow in California, and head to Tampa.” Wildmon is the head of the American Family Association, and Garlow is a conservative activist and pastor in San Diego.